How do I get a Pantone (PMS) ink colour similar a specified CMYK colour? Is it possible that in some cases the PMS swatch chosen doesn't eactly match the CMYK colour?

How would you go about this when choosing brand colours? Choose a Pantone colour first, or choose the CMYK value first?

I'm working in Adobe Illustrator if that's relevant.

  • Hi Alexis, thanks for a nice and fundamental question. I took the liberty of copyediting and clarifying it, and adding some relevant tags. If I changed anything beyond your meaning, feel free to edit it again.
    – Vincent
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 9:25

1 Answer 1


CMYK and PMS are almost always different to some degree. I recommend picking them at the same time. Use a Pantone colour bridge that shows both CMYK and PMS, and from there try to pick colours that match each other well. That way you will give you an impression about how the colour looks in print.

You can always print tests of different CMYK variations and maybe find something that matches better than the colour bridge one, but chances are that it will be time consuming. And as soon as the paper or the print house changes, it can look totally different.

I would also recommend informing the clients about variables that affects colour, such as colur space, printing techniques, paper, lighting etc. Show them some relevant examples. That will hopefully lead to realistic expectations, because colours will look different.

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